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May 18th, 2003 - Open Knowledge

May. 18th, 2003

12:15 am - Germans tax sex

Via USS Clueless

http://abcnews.go.com/wire/BackPage/reuters20030516_300.html

May 16

— BERLIN (Reuters) - With the German economy on the brink of recession, cash-strapped cities are resorting to slapping a "pleasure tax" on brothels to help balance budgets.

Berlin and Cologne said on Friday they may broaden their existing pleasure tax -- which already applies to casinos and public events -- to brothels, sex shows and erotic trade fairs.

The cities of Gelsenkirchen and Dorsten have already done so, but with only modest success. Only about a tenth of brothels have paid up since the tax was broadened in January.

Tax officials are checking out sex venues and prostitutes working from home to see if they are eligible for the tax, which amounts to 5.60 euros ($6.40) per 10 square meters (107 sq ft) of business space per day. Any smaller establishment is exempt.

"Our tax inspectors are combing through sex adverts in local newspapers and then paying visits, but equipped with measuring tapes," said Martin Schulmann, spokesman for Gelsenkirchen.

Prostitutes' lobby group Hydra said in a statement the tax was "pretty absurd."

"Are we going to measure tax payments by the size of the brothel? If so Berlin's clients will have to satisfy their needs in cramped cubbyholes or standing up. Does this city need this?"

Berlin's debt per capita is more than double that of recession-hit Argentina. Other cities are also deeply in the red.

"Many places are trying to get out of the tax by claiming they are just sex cinemas, which only have to pay half the tax rate. It's quite hard to collect," said Schulmann.

But even if all Gelsenkirchen's brothels paid up, the tax would only yield about 150,000 euros ($171,400) a year -- a drop in the ocean of 250 million euros of debt the city has.

Germany, dubbed the "sick man of Europe" because its giant economy has stagnated since 2001, is struggling with a burgeoning budget deficit and mass unemployment.

Copyright 2003 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

12:38 am - Ricardo Semler and Semco S.A.

http://www.t-bird.edu/about_us/lib_research/case_series/cases_1998/ricardo_semler.htm

Copyright © 1998 Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of International Management. All rights reserved.
This case was prepared by Kelly Killian and Francisco Perez under the direction of Dr. Caren Siehl for the purpose of classroom discussion only, and not to indicate either effective or ineffective management.

Ricardo Semler and Semco S.A.

Introduction
In 1982 at the age of 24, Ricardo Semler took control of Semler & Company, a business founded and, until then, managed by his father. At that time, this Brazilian company’s organizational structure, like many historical Latin American enterprises, was a paternalistic, pyramidal hierarchy led by an autocratic leader with a rule for every contingency. Upon taking office, the younger Semler began dramatic organizational restructuring. Among other things, he immediately renamed the company Semco, eliminated all secretarial positions, and implemented an aggressive product diversification strategy. Most observers predicted
that these actions would destroy the company. Semler’s changes, however, did not bring about the demise of the struggling industrial equipment manufacturer. Rather, they created a remarkably flexible organization whose sales grew from $35 million in 1990 to $100 million in 1996. Semco became one of the most sought-after employers in Brazil, manufacturing over two thousand different products, including marine pumps, commercial dishwashers, digital scanners, filters, and mixing equipment, and diversified into banking and environmental services. Over 150 Fortune 500 companies visited Semco in an attempt to discover the secret of its success. Ricardo
Semler’s accomplishments were all the more remarkable when considered against the backdrop of the erratic economy that all of Brazil operated under as the country weathered four currency devaluations, record unemployment, hyperinflation, and a virtual cessation of all industrial production.

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12:41 am - BBC Profile of Ricardo Semler

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/work/handy/semler.shtml

BBC profile of Ricardo Semler.

Highlights:

Ricardo Semler, author and business manager, is celebrated as a role model of a Chief Executive who breaks all the traditional rules and succeeds, massively.

Semler eliminated what he called 'corporate oppression" from his company, Semco: time clocks, dress codes, security procedures, privileged office spaces and perks, they all went. There were to be no receptionists or secretaries.

He set up 'factory committees' to run the plants, in an attempt to get more worker involvement and Semler guaranteed that no-one could be fired while serving on the committees or for at least a year afterwards.

Ricardo then introduced profit-sharing schemes for all the workers. The thought that they could directly influence their own pay encouraged the committees to look for savings and to question any procedures or layers of management that didn't seem to add value.

Managers were hired and fired by their own employees. More than that, the units were now inventing new businesses for themselves. And so Semco grew, entirely due to the initiatives of its workers.

The workers have unrestricted access to all corporate records and are taught how to read financial reports; they set their own wages and their own production quotas.

When the number of people in a Semco unit hits the 100 to 200 mark it is split in two, like it or not.

Semler lists six principles that guide his always experimental company:

1. don't increase business size unnecessarily
2. never stop being a start-up
3. don't be a nanny to your workers
4. let talent find its place
5. make decisions quickly and openly
6. partner promiscuously, you can't do it all yourself.

01:04 am - Weight Loss Abstracts

http://www.exrx.net/Notes/WeightLossAbstracts.html

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